Metallica’s James Hetfield Embraces Straight Edge Symbol
Long-defunct hardcore band Bold proclaimed ‘Nailed to the X’ as a battle cry for the youth of today to embrace clean living. In honor of his hard fought battle from staring down the neck of a bottle to sobriety — hey, they weren’t called Alcoholica for nothing — Metallica singer/guitarist James Hetfield is fully embracing that same clean and sober lifestyle.
Hetfield revealed to So What!, the Metallica fan club publication, that he has a new tattoo and it’s one that has long defined the straight edge/hardcore lifestyle. Hetfield had an ‘X’ inked onto his hand. He explained to the magazine that the tatt represents the mark that bouncers etch onto the hands of underage patrons at shows so that bartenders know they can’t serve them!
Any self-respecting hardcore fan worth their salt knows that the straight edge scene has been adopting this symbol for years, scrawling the backs of their hands with the “X” to show their chosen straight edge lifestyle, whether they were 21 or not. However, Hetfield is well aware of the symbol’s longstanding meaning to the hardcore scene and said that his new ink does not mean he is christening himself as straight edge! He said he does not need drugs or drinks any longer, but that he does not classify as sXe, since a true straight edge person “has never had any of it in his or her whole life.” He also called himself a “reborn straight edge.”
While some militant, elitist sXe kids might be quick to criticize Hetfield’s new ink, I’m proud of him. He’s shining a spotlight on an alternative lifestyle and his sobriety did not come easy, so let’s give the man some credit for getting himself to a better place and for being educated about a counter cultural movement and talking about it to people who may not have known it existed.
In other Hetfield news, you can view the trailer for ‘Absent,’ the documentary about the unfillable emotional hole that absentee fathers leave in their children’s lives, which features the Metallica main man. In the clip, Hetfield talks about how his father abandoned him without saying goodbye, leaving a note that wasn’t even addressed to him. He also mentions how his father’s leaving prevented him from learning how to step up and be a man. The filmmakers were granted usage of Metallica lyrics and songs, and Hetfield even contributes a voice-over in the film.